Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday's Faith - How Do I Survive Child-Loss?

Friday's Faith

How Do I Survive Child-Loss?

What Is Faith?

It was faith that moved the mountain;

It was faith that filled the sea…

It was a word from God's own mouth

Saying simply, "Let there be…"

It is faith that moves my mountain of grief;

It is faith that fills this empty heart ~

Simple words from God's own mouth,

"My child, you will see…"

What is faith but eyes to see

That which is to come?

Faith shows me my child in Heaven…

Waiting There for me…

Pictures, thanks to several Grieving Mothers
Poem - What Is Faith? - Angie Bennett Prince - 6/29/2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday's Therapy - Life-time Impact of Trauma

Thursday's Therapy

Life-time Impact of Trauma

Trauma: It's Not Just Jargon And It Hurts

~by Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Have you experienced trauma? Most people actually have. So we need to really ask: 

What is trauma?

Physical trauma is trauma to the body—it can be an accident, a blow, an illness. Psychological trauma, trauma to the mind, is more complex.  In essence: trauma is an emotional/psychological response to an event or events which are shocking, violent, painful and so on.

Although there can be one-time events such as 9/11, rape, natural disaster and crime, which can cause some people to experience trauma, often trauma is the result of ongoing painful situations which a person has to live with. 

For example, under the umbrella, let’s say, of a period of homelessness, are multiply-occurring events which can be traumatic: hunger, sleeping “rough,” extremes of cold/heat and exposure to the elements, inability to bathe or shower, crime and being shamed by others, all joined with the fear or terror of hopelessness (feeling there is no way out).
Witnessing violence is often traumatic, especially in the case where an individual sees someone beloved or even just known to them, hurt.

Living through war and (extreme) political and cultural unrest can also be traumatic. For example, consider the effect of forced fighting and hunger the children of Sudan live with. Children have been actively hunted and tortured (and enslaved), an evil that seems almost unbelievable, but exists in several developing nations. These children are deeply traumatized, and the symptoms of trauma express themselves in a variety of ways (we’ll write about symptoms later).

But less extreme examples exist. And what might not be very traumatic to one person, may be more so to someone else.

For example, bullying has been in the news and rightfully so. But, although many children do find bullying traumatic, and may carry the trauma with them and struggle with it’s effects through various life-events, others find it less so. While writing about the topic, C.R. spoke with a parent, Judy N., who’s nine-year-old son, Jake, was repeatedly bullied in school the previous year.

“We supported him fully. We worked together with the school to address the problem. I hate to use a cliche, but I know Jake felt empowered and came out far stronger at the end of everything. Now, he’s a confident boy and the other children look up to him. I see this in how popular he’s become. It seems impossible, but bullying opened up a new door of positivity in our lives, not just Jake’s.”

How does trauma get dealt with? It depends on various factors, the main ones include:

  • type/seriousness/nature of the traumatic event
  • person’s emotional resilience, personality, belief/faith
  • person’s access to a support system, and even his belief/faith.

All these have a role to play.

Symptoms of trauma (there is some overlap, in our list, below), and which may fall under the title, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are many, and may include:

  • panic attacks/anxiety symptoms (dizziness, rapid heart rate, difficulty swallowing, terror/fear, and so on)
  • acute-stress reactions/stress disorders
  • irritability and agitation
  • nightmares and insomnia
  • flashbacks
  • disassociation and emotional detachment or “shut-down”
  • poor self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness which may include self-sabotaging behavior, self-destructive/risky behavior (which may lead to behavioral/chemical addictions) and self-harm
  • depression
  • repeating/reenacting the trauma on others (for example, if a child is beaten or humiliated, he might do the same to others throughout his life)
  • self-medicating, which may lead to substance abuse and addiction (this is common, many of the clients we see with addictions have been traumatized)
  • Often, painful feelings about past traumas can trigger uncomfortable feelings in the present, even if the present events one experiences aren’t immediately threatening. A trigger can be anything: loud voices, a scary movie, seeing a fight, even a sign or symbol.

In (one) article, C.R. writes about holocaust survivors who recently had to cope with swastikas painted in their neighborhood. For most people, seeing the swastikas was unpleasant, but not earth-shattering; for those who survived Auschwitz or were victims of other Nazi atrocities, extremely complex emotions surfaced, including difficult-to-articulate painful feelings.

Trauma is something these people in their 80s, 90s, and even 100s, still cope with. 

~Therapy Soup of 
~by Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski, 
June, 2012

(highlights, mine)

Is trauma the perpetual "grass-stain" we can never quite remove from our lives?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday's Woe - Sibling Grief Too Abides...

Wednesday's Woe

Sibling Grief Too Abides...

“When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.”

My son was recently at home for a week,
Spent sweet time with him that left my stomach weak:
Hearing his saga, so much like mine
Tales of the heart so hard to define
When you've lost your little sister
(or your child), and cannot get over daily missing her...
Protecting our hearts (as they're woefully broken),
from potential hard hearts who treat souls like a token,
a token which could prevail their own ends,
a token which has no worth till it mends...
a token which has only one dimension
with no need at all for soulful attention.

Where are we grievers now to go
to be blessed and attended versus merely add to our woe...
His heart's cry pierced anew this mother's broken heart
To see another beloved child... by death be ripped apart. 

I thought it cruel that my son too does own
Some of the same depths of hurt as his dad's and my own...
What will break through this terrible pain
As grief still floods this family with its torrential rain?

Grief Quote, from the novel, Carry the One
Poem - Sibling Grief Too Abides... - Angie Bennett Prince - 6/24/2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tuesday's Trust - Trusting God to Give Me Discernment in Dealing with Toxic People

Tuesday's Trust

Trusting God to Give Me


in Dealing with Toxic People

External validation about the reality of a traumatic experience in a safe and supportive context is a vital aspect of preventing and treating posttraumatic stress. However, the creation of such a context for recovery can become very complicated when the psychological needs of victims and the needs of their social network conflict.

~van der Kolk

When family members are too immature emotionally to deal with the devastation of a family member's child-loss, they may start to feel guilty that of all times that a person would most need them, they cannot be there for that family member in pain at all due to their own emotional deficits. But since they are emotionally immature, they also can't "contain" such difficult feelings of guilt and grapple with them as a healthy person would, so what do they do? They TURN on the victim, deciding to scapegoat them and blame them for their own devastation and loss thinking they must surely have done something to bring all this demise upon themselves! (As if we child-loss grievers have ANYTHING to do with this horrific devastation that has been dropped in our laps!!!)

Traumas provoke emotional reactions in proportion to the degree of threat and horror accompanying them. One way of dealing with these intense emotions is to look for scapegoats who can be held responsible for the tragic event. Family members and other sources of social support can be so horrified at being reminded of the fact that they, too, can be struck by tragedies beyond their control that they start shunning the victims and blame them for what has happened--a phenomenon that has been called "the second injury."

Many trauma survivors' testimonies indicate that not being supported by the people they counted on, and being blamed for bringing horrendous experiences upon themselves, have left deeper scars than the original trauma itself.



The ability to tolerate the plight of victims is, in part, a function of how well people have dealt w/their own misfortunes.

~van der Kolk

Here's a clue. I have always known certain family members have not faced the hurts from childhood. And because of that, I have known they often become their own worst enemies. But they can't tolerate my plight because they cannot have love and mercy and comfort on their own poor hurt selves. As one family member says, "We just take it" when there are hurtful things going on, in my opinion being so cruel to themselves in that way. And they think they do "just take it" ("it" being rage, emotional abuse, or disrespect) in order to "love." That's not love; that's cowardice and not trusting that the other parties involved can take the hurt, facing up to their own hurtful behavior, in order for relationships to heal. And yet certain family members just keep taking the pain and not speaking up, so the others don't even know they are causing any pain.

When they've confronted the reality of their own hurt and suffering and accepted their own pain, this translates into tolerance, even compassion for others.

~van der Kolk

There is no tolerance. There is no compassion. There is anger that I still think I have needs when these certain family members think I should be "done" by now.

When people deny the impact of their own personal trauma, pretend it wasn't so bad, and make excuses for their abusers, they're likely to identify with the aggressors...

~van der Kolk

Oh yes! These family members indeed have become aggressive and cruel. They can't even see their behavior as abusive. Or if at times, they catch themselves being cruel, they decide that's what I deserve anyway. Unbelievable, until I stop to see -- they made excuses for their abusers, -- they've white-washed it away, -- and now they identify with the aggressors. They have become the aggressors. It is really quite pitiful, so out of necessity,

I must simply avoid them, and pray for them. It truly hurts me that they are callous toward their own hurt hearts and souls, and yet in their doing so, they are becoming hard. And I cannot be around hard.

(These folks steeped in such denial) treat others with the same harshness with which they treat the wounded parts of themselves.

~van der Kolk

Yes, I have seen that ~ when they hurt me deeply, I see they have that same harsh attitude toward their own woundedness too. And so, how will it ever heal for them? It won't at this rate. So they just keep running...building bigger houses, buying newer cars, and going on exotic trips, but none of these things fill that gaping hole inside. No matter how big, how new, nor how exotic.

Identification with the aggressor makes it possible (for those in denial) to bypass empathy for themselves and secondarily for others.

~van der Kolk

Yes. And so to them, I do not exist, not as a vulnerable human being anyway who needs tenderness and compassion.. Or if I do, it seems it is only for them to berate, chastise, control, manipulate, and pull power plays on. Things people do when they're in high school. Surely not in your more "mature" years. But they do. It seems they can only relate to me through manipulations, criticisms, and many other power plays.

Thank You Father. You have exposed the underbelly of the ugly disease. At the very least, I know better how to pray for them...

Picture, thanks to Google Images

Monday's Mourning Ministry - I Sure Miss You ~Jason Crabb / and Ghost House ~by Robert Frost

Monday's Mourning Ministry

I Sure Miss You

~Jason Crabb and the Crabb Family


and Ghost House ~Robert Frost

Ghost House

I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.

I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.

It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me—
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad—
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.

I Sure Miss You

~Jason Crabb and the Crabb Family

If life could only bring again,

the days I took for granted when

To hear your voice was just a call away

Oh what I'd give for just some time,

to say the things that slipped my mind

There's so much now I'd really like to say

But I can never go back when

we did the things we did back then

I'll store those precious memories in my mind

I'll take what you've instilled in me;

I'll try to be all I can be

And walk the path that you have left behind


I sure miss you;

Life will never be the same with you not here

Each passing day has brought much pain

But with God's grace, my strength remains

I sure miss you,

but Heaven's sweeter with you there

The little things that seemed so small

are now like gold in a memory vault

I cherish every one I have of you

Now I can see and recognize

the part you played to shape my life

I often see you in the things I do

In God's design and master plan

He saw the hurting hearts of man

As we would say goodbye to those so dear

So with our family and friends

we'll be together once again

We're view all Heaven's splendor hand in hand

I sure miss you;

Life will never be the same with you not here

Each passing day has brought much pain

With God's grace my strength remains

I sure miss you,

But Heaven's sweeter with you there

~Words and Music by Gerald Crabb

Pictures, thanks to "The Empty Chair"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saturday's Sayings ~ You Don't Get Over It ~ You Just Get Through It

Saturday's Sayings

You Don't Get Over It
~ You Just Get Through It

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

~Henry Drummond

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


~~ 'A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.' ~~

~Widely attributed to Walter Wincher

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


“You don’t get over it, you just get through it...

You don’t get by it, because you can’t get around it...

It does not get better, It just gets different...

Everyday grief puts on a new face.”

~ Author Unknown ~

~via Karren's Quote Collection


~~ 'If every tear I shed represented a thought of you. I would be drowning.' ~~


~via Karren's Quote Kollection


Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you,

Smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,

Sweeps you up into its darkness,

Where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,

Only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped...

Grief will make a new person out of you,

If it doesn't kill you in the making...

~Author Unknown~

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


This bears repeating…

~ "Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity." ~

~Author Unknown

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


~ "Grief changes shape. But it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone and I'm better.' They're wrong!" ~

~Actor Keanu Reeves whose daughter was born still.

~ c/o TCF ~

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


~~ I never knew how much love my heart could hold until someone called me 'Mommy.' ~~

~Author Unknown

~via Karren's Quote Kollection


~~ "Cleanse yourself with laughter and with tears. Let tears take out all the agony that is hidden inside you, and let laughter ignite your contagious joy. Many people don't realize the great curing effects of good laugh and a good cry.

"Crying is a great way to (relieve) emotional pain in your life. A lot of us save crying for extremely emotionally sensitive times, such as when (a) close loved one dies, or during a bad break-up. During times like these every tear that falls down our face is an ounce of pain leaving the body. Crying is one of the greatest coping mechanisms that we have as a human beings.

"It is important to drain our sorrows out with tears and re-ignite the flame of joy in your / our life by laughing as much as possible during the most trying times." ~~

~ Unknown ~

~via Karren's Quote Collection




Remember the life and love that touched you, enriched you, blessed you, and changed you for all eternity. This life is so much bigger than the death. If you are struggling with images of a painful, prolonged, or traumatic and sudden end, keep turning your attention to the life that made your life brighter and sweeter. Life and love are always bigger than death.

~Grieving Mothers

Pictures, thanks to The Compassionate Friends, Remembering Homicide Victims, Grieving Mothers, and Karren's Quote Collection

Friday's Faith - Bible Emergency Numbers

Friday's Faith

Bible Emergency Numbers

Many people write me asking for Bible verses to help them in their grief. Someone recently shared this list of verses that help them in a number of situations; I wanted to pass it along to you. One correction I might make, in the theme, "For idea of Christianity, call..." the poster states "1 Corinthians 5:15-19," but the actual scripture to which they refer is found in "2 Corinthians 5:15-19."

A word of warning: Because of what each of us has been through in losing our child, we each may be triggered in different ways according to our circumstances by certain scriptures that may seem to fall in line with some of the shattered assumptions we once easily held but are shaky on in the present. We are all a work in progress still working through our beliefs and assumptions in light of the severe loss and trauma we have endured. As we have stated many times, it is like we are having to completely rework the fabric of the very foundation of our being in many aspects of our lives; the spiritual is no exception. We must always hold our assumptions and beliefs up to the light of God's truth and revelation as we ask and cry out and sometimes even argue out our confusion with Him. Many outsiders do not understand the grueling work that such struggles require as we are grappling with the severest hurts that are closest and dearest to our broken hearts.

Remember, God's Word is living and active ~ May He minister to you as you read His Word.

May God's Word bless you all.

Poster, thanks to ~Godly Woman Daily's Photos